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Cataclysm: She’s-a Launched

I was originally planning on just picking the game today, as I am not addicted (enough) to WoW to stand outside in sub-freezing weather (if we hit 40 degree’s we’ll dance around naked in the sun) just to pick up a box that will unlock the data Blizzard made us all install weeks ago.  I got the call from GameStop two days ago from an overly perky girl who not only was clearly reading a script, but probably never even spent a day inside one of the stores she was speaking for.  She told my answering machine with a smile bigger than the Cheshire Cat, that they will be having a celebration starting at 10pm for this momentous occasion.  I checked out what that was, and according to the main site, it would involve trivia and dance contests.

With the Gamespy trivia I linked to a few days ago, I probably would have fared well at that, but like hell I’ll dance around unless an abundance of currency is involved.  If I refuse to play DDR at any time at all, like heck I’m going to do that round my peers for sport.

After stewing it over, I thought about the current events and how things are panning out.  My mother pre-ordered the game for my birthday months ago.  Since then a digital download has been offered, not from various brands and the like, but directly from Blizzard itself.  If not for the money already spent on the pre-order, this would have been how I purchased the game myself.  (I could always buy the box for my ‘collection’ later, I doubt they will disappear any time soon.)  But this new option and my reaction to it is what sparked my only real interest into going to this midnight release event.

If any Gamers in their right mind had all these options available, why would any bother going out at all?  If you could just sit back, wait for the servers to come back online before getting your new gaming goodness on, why would you even waste time going outside?

Valid questions, and all correct.  If you had the option, in my opinion, you should have downloaded the game from Blizz and been set and ready to go from the first moment. 

And while this made perfect sense, this bothered me.

If everyone else did this efficient method of upgrading their account, there would no longer be these midnight releases.  Blizzard is rather large since WoW first started six years ago.  So large that others are ripping off quite a few of their ideas, both in-game and in business.  If this was a success, and by all means it already is, other companies will start focusing on just digital sales.  And then others, and others.  (I am curious to see numbers of sales, but to be more precise: How many bought directly from Blizzard.  How many went in person at any store, and how many people that put money down on the game did not come to collect their copy within three days of release.  The latter suggesting they left their money rot and got the game digitally once they found out that was an option.)

The idea of gamers grouping up for this mini semi-annual and extremely short conventions is now in serious danger of going the way of the dinosaur.  I have never gone to one of these releases, much like I have never gone to midnight movie releases.  I do not feel the need to get it instantly.  (I have some self-control, for goodness sake.)  But, if these release events are going away, I would appreciate at least going to one before the die off.

But bollocks to the pre-release party.

I left my house five after Midnight, arriving just about ten after.  There was a line that wrapped the outer edge of the inside of the store, forming a boomerang-like design (the store is on a corner of this mini-mall strip…but that makes it sound smaller than it is) that went from counter to counter.  I stood in line, the counter behind me, and slowly, jerkily, wound my way with the other customers towards our intended destination: the other counter just feet away from my starting position.  The room was warm, but not overly-so, even with my jacket on.  (I was sporting a Murloc t-shit, which I swore has shrunk in the wash since the last time I wore it a week ago.)

People were chattering about skills and classes, to item sets and other bragging points.

“Ah, man.  Mage armor.  Did you guys see that?  The new tier armor for Mages?  It is awesome!”

He was right, it is.

“…so I took points out of Chilblains and put them into [unintelligible].”

Frost spec’d Death Knight.

“Dude, I pop my wings and it’s like every hit: ‘Eight k, eight k, eight k.’ ”

Ret Paladin, more than likely attempting to explain how he is not completely over powered.  I do like the changes to the class, though.  Has a pseudo-holy Samurai feel at the moment.

I ended up being the second to last customer to get their game.  I received a regular game box (was not sure what my mom pre-ordered exactly as the name on the receipt was cut short, making me worry if she got the expensive Collectors Edition, which is double the regular price), receipt, and a poster for pre-ordering.  While walking back to my car I saw people waving to one another as they departed, one mentioning that the other didn’t even tell him their name.

As the car warmed back up and the frost quickly faded away, I could see the store manager spiritedly jog over to the door, changing the “Open!” sign to “Closed.”  With the parking lot already almost deserted to begin with due to the time of day,  I saw the last person hop in their car and drive off.  Quickly getting their game unwrapped and beginning to conquer the elements in a struggle against Deathwing, no doubt.  (Kudos to them if they brought their laptop along.)

That was it.  I was at a midnight release event.

Will this still exist come next expansion, due in about a year from now?  The idea of Blizzard selling the game digitally was somewhat sprung on us fairly close to the last-minute.  Some of the people present that night might have gone only because they already paid for the game, but they will not be caught unaware next expansion.  Others might need more coercion than just a poster to get out of a cozy home during the middle of winter.  I am not even sure if I will attend it next time, as I came to witness the event and get the game; both plans were successfully executed.  What reason do I have to do this again?

I think it largely depends on what brick-and-mortar’s offer next time.  Not that they have to bribe me to give them my money, but if the clear winner is to just get the game from the company that produced it, why would I bother going to a store that is not connected to it in any way?  Most pressing question of the night would be:  How could anything even compete?  Blizzard not only recently announced the Digital Download option recently, but that the game was going to be ten bucks cheaper than normal.  Did GameStop know this?  Did they pay Blizzard the wholesale price expecting the Retail Price to be ten dollars higher than that it came out to be?  What could they offer us to go through them instead of Blizzard?  T-shirts, hats, stuffed figurines of the monsters we fight with in-game?  That does sound appealing, I might add, but even if they did hand out those items as incentive, Blizzard owns the rights to those products and will get paid either way.

Here, if you’ve read through my “Deep Gaming Thoughts” all the way you should be rewarded, so here is the official Cataclysm trailer (now don’t get addicted to it, Mr. Foucault!):


Seems like I am not the only one pondering the future of these ‘events.’  Mmogamerchick and her commenters also think the Fate sisters are not smiling upon retail sales against the Direct Download option.

12 responses »

  1. Count me in for someone who will be sad to see midnight releases go the way of the dodo.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’d take any excuse to go outside! I’m a night owl too, so midnight isn’t that late for me, and if I’m going to be up anyway, I might as well get some fresh air and socialize with other gamers! This is probably the city girl still in me though, I love attending events and other gatherings just for the sake of the experience.

    I’m hoping midnight releases will at least stick around until SWTOR comes out. That’s one launch party I wouldn’t want to miss, cross my fingers!

    • Oh, *so* the Night People over here. Heck, just logged off muh’ worgen and was about to hit the hay at a wee bit after four in the mornin’. (Didn’t even have music goin’, so still a respectable time to clock out.) While it was subtle, I totally agree that city people = more open minded. I moved from Chicago to Da’ Burbs and there is a huge change in personality. Xenophobic and isolationist mentality does not even begin to describe the closed-in sentiment these weirdos got. Even common things like holding the door for other people almost never happens, which is a shame.

      Best of luck with Star Wars having a midnight release. It isn’t Blizzard/Activsion based, and SW is beyond well known for people to wait in line hours and hours before the event actually starts. (Personally I do not think it is sign of loyalty, but a sign they do not have a girlfriend haha) While stuff moves fast, I do not think it is going to move *that* fast that retail boxes will not have a small celebration once they go live. Unless the game does not ship for over a year, as that is a bit far to predict with technology changing so quickly and people getting progressively lazy. (It all started with the mechanical lollipop. Once your candy moves to help you eat it faster, it’s just downhill from there.)

      Thank-you for commenting! Oh and fight the urge to level/adventure solo! While it is strong at first, it shall pass. (Besides, why not go and level Archy? It is only a secondary skill and far too random that the two of you could do it at the same time as you’d have to go from zone to zone on your high levels anyway.)

  2. I got my CE mailed to me. I’ve never done a midnight party for a game, but I did go and wait all night for tickets to The phantom menace when it was released. And that was a blast. All sorts of geeks trying to outgeek each other all night long…

    When I went to Blizzcon, which was like line up hell, I learned that yes, you do get to know the people around you and chat about anything. Cause there isn’t much else to do for 5 hours in a line…

    I think though, that the idea behind them is fun, but unless its a really big store and something huge I can’t see it being exciting. I mean if they had games and contests and things to make it interesting I would totally go. If its just waiting in line, then no, I’ll wait for the mailman.

    • “When I went to Blizzcon” Well heck, I think you just out-geeked anyone in the proverbial building. My cousin wanted to go to it, but for all the cash involved I said the virtual ticket was a better deal. Kinda the same idea behind going to get the game live vs downloading the son of a gun.

      …Not that I actually got that virtual ticket, mind you. Boiled that down to the pet and new information, which I didn’t care for the pet that much (I think the lack-luster name was really what killed it for me) and I figured youtube would be more than willing to host the same footage for free hee hee

      • lol. :) We went to the blizzcon where you got the polar bear mount. It was fun. Took the train down to save money and stayed with some in game friends. Spent a week and putzed about. But yes, line ups, line ups.. and more line ups. 5 hours just to get through the line up to buy the stuff we wanted in the store.

        It was fun to see people, and some of the panels were fun. Got to meet the cast of the Guild… yea. Overall though, I had more fun hanging out doing the touristy stuff then i did the actual weekend of blizzcon.

  3. You don’t need to worry about my addictions – I have them under control. Aside from my current heroin and crystal meth adventures (which I don’t call addictions because that denotes a daily need instead of sporadic binges), my only real addiction is cigarettes. Actually, I don’t do meth or heroin, although I figure if you’re going to get into street drugs your best bet is heroin: it lasts for hours whereas drugs like crack’s high is short lived, cocaine is too expensive, and meth is cut with fuel injector cleaner. Believe me, WoW looks insanely fun but I know my GPA will drop to 0 and my relationship will perish if I get involved. I’ve been down video game addiction’s path before; I’ve chased the Playstation dragon countless times and found a better replacement: black tar heroin. =)

    Actually I hate heroin. I’ve known too many people who died from it; not my idea of fun. However, your post brings up an interesting piece of our current economic woes that people overlook constantly: the decline of the retail entertainment store. I was a video store flunky once upon a time; I paid my dues stocking shelves with the latest Disney release or Hollywood blockbuster at Suncoast Motion Picture Company. I left the exciting world of home video sales a few years before Suncoast’s decline, but I saw the writing on the wall well before they went extinct. Digital methods of distribution are surely killing jobs, slowly disintegrating once valued retail occupations; open to high school and college students and the drug addled. I’m torn between thinking it’s a good thing and thinking it’s a shame.

    The advantages: it’s better for the environment. Less plastic, paper, and fuel is used manufacturing and distributing these items, helping our environment which isn’t in good shape currently. The disadvantages: it’s killing jobs. The retail oracle is disappearing, replaced by internet buzz and corporate authority. This extinguishes word of mouth promotion and actual communication between people at a fixed location. The video store (or video game store) where people would come in, talk about their interests, and learn about other films (or games) is a dying institution. This is happening to the record store too, but going into that would take up much more room and I’m sure nobody wants to read my rant about the decline of the music industry.

    If I have to take a side I’m going with less digital distribution. If all the right-wing pundits are screaming out for jobs, keeping these forms of entertainment distribution viable is a surefire way to provide employment. If everything transforms to digital circulation it not only kills jobs but also kills a central location where people mingle, discussing the joys of their hobbies. I know it’s not beneficial for our ecosystem but I’m a child of the 20th century – I like the corporeal product. I like having records, DVDs, books, and so forth. I feel digital versions are cold, sterile, and inhuman; you can’t feel a page turn on a Kindle, you can’t look at an insert with a digital download, and you can’t interact with other fans personally when downloading video games.

    Then again, I have so much shit in my house (books, records, etc.) that maybe going digital would save my sanity. However, living in such an organized world seems inhuman, contrary to what it means to be a product of industrialization.

    • Haha, should have a “Just Say No _____ ” sticker and we fill in whatever the vice of our choosing is. I haven’t played WoW that much as nothing was really new, but since they added the x-pack…I went from 80 to 82 (of 85) yesterday alone. The hooks. They in-a deep >.>

      I too likes me some tangible stuff to hold onto. When digital stuff first started (games, music, movies, etc.) I was not a fan at all. I like the additions it can handle, for example once I unlocked the Cataclysm or any other game with my account on Blizzard, I can now download it DIRECTLY from their servers where ever I am. My Diablo 2 install disc has been used so many times it barely managed to install the last two times, but now I just get it online and game on.

      I saw one die hard comic collector woefully admit that he will no longer get the physical medium after he got his digital reader. Spent a good $250 bucks at the store one final time as a last hurrah and ‘thanks’ to the owner, but he won’t be going back now that it saves so much space. Wonder how many others are doing the same. Imagine getting your Walking Dead via email instead of in person. Deep thoughts, brah!

  4. I also watched that trailer and the game looks pretty epic. It seems cinematic, both visually and aurally. I completely understand why people enjoy WoW; I still stand by my convictions and refuse to play it. It’s not because it looks boring or anything like that, I just want to leave my house from time to time for things other than sustenance.

    • Dude, you are looking at it from the wrong angle. The Misses loves her some WoW and other online games. Solves and relationship woes right there. She likes going out “There” more than I, so that solves the going out for sustenance too. See? You actually do not even need to leave your house at all!


  5. I’ll probably never read comics digitally. There’s something gratifying about going to the comic shop, talking to the workers and patrons, and walking away with some new goodies. I can also pass them around when finished, which is what I do with comic books all the time. The only reason I’m keeping TWD issue 79 is because they printed my letter. I usually pass them off to my buddy Justin, who then passes them off to others. Eventually other comics come my way along the same lines – that’s how I found Garth Ennis’ (Preacher) Punisher run, which is probably the best Punisher series I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, I’ve believed the Punisher a mediocre character anyways, but Ennis really revitalized it, giving it a new depth. He aged the character, made him a bit crazier, and amped up the social and political commentary. Frank Miller did the same thing with Batman (Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns) and I’m always impressed when a comic book luminary can inject fresh zeal into a stale character. Sorry I went on a tangent there.

    My point is: you can’t pass around digital files in the same way. So many of them are encrypted so they’re only readable on a specific device unless hacked, which takes time. With an analog format I just hand it off and it makes the rounds, eventually landing in the deserving home of some enthusiastic collector (which I’m not anymore). I got my girlfriend a Kindle for Christmas and I think they’re really cool, but I doubt she’ll totally disavow corporeal books. Then again, I could be wrong. If I had a Kindle I’d probably only buy books here and there (at used bookstores and the like).

    • Aye, I think if I ever got a comic digitally it better darn well utilize the tech available. I’ve seen quite a few fan made Motion Comics that read the dialog as if the character is speaking their lines and the occasional sound effects, and slightly moving action. Like, if the character is in the first panel then turns away in the next, even just a quick fade to show movement is all it takes.

      Could be considered lazy, but I think that the simple additions ‘mere’ fans added really draw you into the scene and story versus silence, barring the potential humming of a processor or hard drive.

      And, adding to your preference to the corporeal comics, they are a heck of a lot easier to display without looking creepy. Kinda hard to ‘show off’ to your friends by opening up a folder and proclaiming you have the entire series of Superman when they themselves are just more folders holding images of the actual comics.

  6. Pingback: “Why Can’t I Make A Pandaren!” « Encrazed Crafts

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